Two Former Players Gone Too Soon
April has been a month filled with losses in the world of Collegiate and National Football, and during these past two days, some players were taken too soon. It is unfortunate to be hearing about two former players passing away. Former Notre Dame defensive lineman Kona Schwenke passed this past Sunday, as well as famed Steelers player Bennie Cunningham on Monday.
These are two major events, both in the history of the league, as well as a hard hit for fellow teammates and fans abroad. Bennie Cunningham was a stellar player in his hay-day, as he began his career in the seventies, and matriculated to Clemson to be one of the best tight ends the school has ever seen. He left the school being awarded, as a first-team All-American player two years in a row, as well as setting a school record that would not be broken for almost forty years.
Bennie never disappointed during his career with the Steelers, as he was a key element in their successful years, which included winning two back-to-back Super Bowls, as well as winning consecutive AFC Championships. He was loved by his team and retired gracefully with ten seasons under his belt. Bennie was always considered a great role model, and he continued to be an example to young men, as he returned to his alma mater to earn a masters degree.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t win his four-month battle with cancer, and passed away earlier on Sunday, he was sixty-three. It was equally to hear the news of the young player Kona Schwenke, who was lost too soon at the mere age of twenty-five. While it is not confirmed on his cause of death, his personal agent has stated that he had died in his sleep.
Schwenke, who played with the Notre Dame team as a defensive lineman, gave four years of hard work to the team. In his senior year, the native Hawaiian was awarded the school’s Next Man In Award. He went on in his career to sign on to a variety of professional teams but never played in a regular season game. He was last seen on the field this past season in a spring league game but returned to his home in Laie, Hawaii to reside there. He was loved by many, and since the news has broken, many of his fellow past Indiana teammates have reached out to share their love with the former player.